Recipe from The Hairy Dieters Fast Food
I absolutely love Moroccan food and have generally really enjoyed recipes from this and all of the Hairy Bikers cookbooks. I’m making this knowing it will be good for me but with high expectations for a really flavourful dish.
Difficulty rating- 1/5- a case of chop things up and bung them in
1x slow cooker or casserole
1x zester or grater
1x chef’s knife
1x chopping board
1x pestle & mortar
For how many people? 4
Total time taken (according to the recipe)- No prep time given, 8 hours in slow cooker
Total time taken by me- 2 hours 45 minutes
Hands-on time (according to the recipe)- none given
Hands-on time taken by me (including ingredients prep)- 45 minutes
Cooking time (according to the recipe)- 8 hours (slow cooker)
Cooking time taken by me- 2 hours (oven)
After a few bad experiences of slow braise dishes that don’t specify browning the meat first, I decided to go off book and brown the chicken thighs while I was prepping the other ingredients for the dish. It didn’t add any prep time and we’ll see whether or not I need to eat humble pie if the chicken’s tough when we come to eat it. I used a teaspoon of oil to do this, but as I’m not currently dieting and it was only a small amount, I don’t feel too bad about increasing the calorie count in this way.
We don’t actually own a slow cooker- I occasionally toy with the idea of buying one but have so far decided against it deciding I have better uses for my cupboard space, so I utilised online resources (how did we cope before search engines?) and looked up slow cooker to oven conversions. Instead of cooking this in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours, I’ll be putting it in an oven at 160°c for 2 hours.
On the whole everything else is just a case of chopping, spooning, zesting and just bunging everything into the casserole, mixing things together and seasoning when directed. One exception is the ground cloves called for by the recipe, which I’ve never seen in a supermarket so I ground some whole cloves up in a pestle and mortar. Also, the recipe doesn’t ask you to chop the green olives but as I’m using gordal olives the 25g asked for by the recipe would mean 3 olives between 4 people, so I roughly chopped them.
Also, the conversion charts I came across all recommended reducing the liquid by half if you’re using the oven but as the recipe only calls for 250ml of chicken stock I decided to use the full amount.
I made some cous cous to serve it with just before it came out of the oven, which I cooked with chicken stock instead of water and stirred through a small amount of extra virgin olive oil.
Any cheats or changes?
As I’ve already mentioned, I’m using the oven instead of a slow cooker.
I used cheat’s garlic (the pre chopped stuff that comes in a jar and lives in my fridge)
The supermarket didn’t have bone-in chicken thighs so I used chicken thigh fillets.
Any extra tips?
The recipe has quite a lot of different spices in different amounts, so it’s worth using measuring spoons to make sure the balance of these is correct. If you don’t have these, a regular household teaspoon is actually half a teaspoon (2.5ml), so use two of these for every teaspoon the recipe calls for and six for every tablespoon.
Anything you’d change for next time?
I’d follow the recipe more carefully and wouldn’t bother browning the chicken thighs beforehand- in this instance it meant that the chicken was ever so slightly drier than it would have been, although not actually dry. Hubris 1 Me 0.
I might be a bit lighter handed with the spices, particularly the cloves- they were verging on overwhelming the other flavours in the dish.
Serving Size- just right, served with cous cous I felt satisfied but not really full. There would be room for a small pudding after a rest.
The spices definitely dominate this dish, and they are delicious although very nearly too strong. I could still taste the other flavours but not as clearly as I would have liked. The chicken wasn’t moist, but not dry either- this was definitely my fault and not the recipe’s though!
The cous cous absorbed the flavours nicely and the chickpeas and apricots added an enjoyable variety of textures to the dish. I also really enjoyed the sweetness from the apricots, which cut through the spices and gave a bit more interest to the dish.
Any comments from other people?
My husband didn’t think the flavours from the spices were too strong and that had I used less it would have been bland. He also really enjoyed the citrus flavour from the lemon cutting through and found that refreshing.
Verdict– 4/5, a well written, easy to follow recipe which was incredibly simple to make and very enjoyable to eat.